Washington D.C.--The Senate Judiciary Committee
is currently considering an Immigration Reform billH.R. 4437 the
Border Protection, Anti-terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control
Actthat could have a great impact on all undocumented immigrants in
the United States, many of whom are of Polish descent. Prepared by
Senator Specter (R-PA) the draft of the legislation raises many
concerns within the immigrant community including provisions that
would: restore indefinite detention, criminalize immigrant status
and restrict "voluntary departure." The bill would establish a
temporary worker program, but does not provide any opportunity for
the temporary worker to adjust to permanent status and would not
provide a route to a green card or citizenship. H.R. 4437 also would
mean that an immigrant would not be eligible for any federal public
benefits and he may actually lose access to emergency health care.
Please pick up the phone NOW and call your
Senator if he or she is on the list of Judiciary Committee members
(1) Give the receptionist your name and address;
(2) tell him or her that you support immigrants'
rights and a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants;
(3) urge a yes vote on any amendments to make the
Specter immigration reform bill less punitive; and
(4) urge a no vote on amendments that would make
it even more anti-immigrant.
Arlen Specter, Chairman (R-PA) Tel.:
Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) Tel.: (202) 224-5251
Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) Tel.: (202) 224-3744
Jon Kyl (R-AZ) Tel.: (202) 224-4521
Mike DeWine (R-OH) Tel.: (202) 224-2315
Jeff Sessions (R-AL) Tel.: (202) 224-4124
Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Tel.: (202) 224-5972
John Cornyn (R-TX) Tel.: (202) 224-2934
Sam Brownback (R-KS) Tel.: (202) 224-6521
Tom Coburn (R-OK) Tel.: (202) 224-5754
Patrick J. Leahy, Ranking Minority Member (D-VT) Tel.:
(202) 224-4242 Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) Tel.: (202)
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) Tel.: (202) 224-5042
Herbert Kohl (D-WI) Tel.: (202) 224-5653
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) Tel.: (202) 224-3841
Russell D. Feingold (D-WI) Tel.: (202) 224-5323
Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) Tel.: (202) 224-6542
Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) Tel.: (202) 224-2152
If you do not live in one of the listed states,
please call Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), the Majority Leader at (202)
224-3344, and Senator Arlen Specter, the Chair of the Judiciary
Committee, with the message in (1) and (2) above.
Two weeks ago, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), the
Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, circulated a draft of his
long-awaited immigration reform proposal. The draft formed the basis
for that Committee's deliberation on immigration reform that started
on Thursday, March 2nd, and continues with consideration of
amendments each Thursday for the following 2-3 weeks. During this
and next week, members of the Committee are expected to introduce a
multitude of amendments, both improving the bill as well as those
making it even more punitive (e.g. proposing building a fence along
the border, or coercion of state and local police into enforcing
civil immigration laws). Among those improving the bill, will be
efforts to re-write the bill to make it more closely resemble
Senators McCain and Kennedy's immigration reform proposal, S. 1033.
It is important to note that other improvements such as the DREAM
Act may also be offered as amendments.
THE BILL AND ITS MAIN PROVISIONS
Weighing in at 305 pages, the draft imports many
provisions and concepts from H.R. 4437, House Judiciary Committee
Chairman James Sensenbrenner's (R-WI) punitive and extreme proposal
that passed the House last December.
Some of the specific provisions of the Specter
Increased detention, including
restoration of indefinite detention;
Bars to naturalization for lawful permanent residents;
Increased border control mechanisms without protecting
the rights of border communities;
Broadening the definition of "aggravated felony"
(which includes many relatively minor offenses; for
which a conviction precludes an immigrant from
Criminalization of immigration status violations
(which means making unlawful presence in the U.S. a
continuing criminal offense);
Restrict "voluntary departure" (a procedure which
allows immigrants to avoid receiving a removal order,
and the government to avoid the expense of a removal
A massive new mandatory electronic employment
verification system (with few safeguards to protect
workers from errors, misuse, or privacy lapses); and
Restrictions on judicial review (which would prevent
immigrants from having their day in court).
B. Temporary worker program:
Would permit an unlimited number of
individuals to come to the U.S. from abroad to work for
2 terms of up to 3 years each (for a total of 6 years)
in job categories not covered by other temporary worker
Would not provide any opportunity for the temporary
worker to adjust to permanent status at the end of the
6-year authorized stay (an immigrant could leave the job
during the authorized period of stay, but would have to
find another one with an eligible employer within 45
days or return to the country of origin)
"Eligible employer" would be required to pay a fee and
attest that the position meets a long list of
The spouse and children of these workers would be able
to come to the U.S., but would not be allowed to work.
At the end of the second 3-year term, the workers
would be required to return to their home countries for
at least a year, with no provision allowing them to
remain in the U.S.
C. "Nonimmigrant conditional worker"
Would apply to all undocumented
workers who already live here and who were in the U.S.
and working on January 4, 2004.
Would last indefinitely if the applicants remain
Would permit to live and work in the U.S., and to be
readmitted after traveling abroad.
Would offer no route to a green card or citizenship
All 9 to 11 million undocumented immigrants would be
required to apply within the 9-month period. Those who
fail to apply during this period would lose not only
their right to obtain the new status, but would also be
unable to apply for other kinds of relief from removal.
Applicants would be required to waive their right to
contest any future removal action regardless of the
legitimacy of the action.
The immigrant's employer would be required to submit
an affidavit attesting to current employment and to pay
a $500 fee for each worker to continue such employment.
The immigrant would be limited ONLY to positions that
meet the requirements for hiring guest workers.
If the immigrant loses his/her job and is unable to
find another with this limited pool of employers within
45 days, he/she would also lose his/her nonimmigrant
status and be required to leave the U.S.
The immigrant would not be eligible for any new
federal public benefits (and depending on how the
provision is interpreted, a person could actually lose
access to the few benefits that they now can receive
such as emergency health care).
The spouse and children of a worker in this
nonimmigrant category would be able to remain in the
U.S., but would not be authorized to work.
Clearly, these requirements would leave
immigrants and their families vulnerable and subject to
exploitation, and are very far from the legalization that is needed.
It is extremely important to act fast. The
Specter draft is being discussed in the Senate Judiciary Committee
NOW this week and the next. Make sure that your voice in support
of immigrant rights and a path to legal status of undocumented
immigrants is heard TODAY.